Just like your first beer bong, losing your virginity or even getting a blumpkin, turning 21 only happens once in a lifetime. It should be a memorable day filled with family, friends and endless amounts of alcohol. About a week ago, I turned 21 and luckily everything went perfect for me. This isn’t the case for everyone, however. Many unknowing alcohol neophytes encounter troubles on their 21st birthday. I hope that the stories and advice I give you will help you when you reach this landmark. For those of you that are already over 21, reminisce on your epic day.

Plan well in advance. Like I said, it’s once in a lifetime, so don’t be afraid to save up and spend a lot of money for your birthday. My friend and I paired up to celebrate together, and started planning over a month in advance. We rented a limo/party bus, reserved a few tables at Something’s Fishy and reserved bottle service at Sharkeez. All three things turned out great, but could not have happened if we didn’t plan far in advance.

The loop is a great idea for procrastinators. For those of you who don’t know what the loop is, it is when you go to every place in IV that serves alcohol. There are about 12 places and it forms a half circle, hence, the loop. There is also the State Street crawl. Similar concept, but you hit up over 20 places along State Street that serve alcohol (not recommended for amateur drinkers). These two adventures are extremely fun and take minimal planning.

Make sure you have friends with you that will stay with you and take care of you. My friend, Eric, wandered off by himself on his 21st birthday. He ended up getting jumped, losing his car keys and passing out in a gutter – not a great introduction to the life of legal drinking.

Do not get into a fight. After our night of celebration, the party bus dropped my birthday companion and I off at home. My intoxicated friend decided at 5 a.m. that he wanted Freebirds. While at Freebirds, a couple drunk idiots were talking shit, a few punches were thrown and my friend was tasered and spent his birthday in jail (sorry Bao – happy birthday, buddy). Even though this will make a sweet story later in life, I’m sure he would rather have spent his birthday in the bars, not behind them.

Most importantly, don’t get too drunk. It was hard for me to say that, because I am usually one of the drunkest people at any given party, but it is important. Your 21st birthday should be memorable, or at least most of it. My buddy, John, decided to chug half a handle of vodka in one pull on his 21st. He doesn’t remember any of the night and the next morning he woke up in the hospital with a catheter in his dick. When you get wasted on your birthday, try to save the blacking out until the end of the night.

I hope you take into account these things when you turn 21, or even for any birthday after 21. Whether you celebrate locally, gamble in Vegas, or fly to Hawaii; make your 21st something special that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Daily Nexus columnist Ray Collins’s first blumpkin also went perfectly thanks to much careful planning.